Category Archives: Tropical Weather

Fretting the hurricanes

Posted by Bill

There has been a lot going on since the last post. A couple of weeks ago, we along with Matt and Shirley on Sofia Jeanne, and John on Annali, took our boats south to Myrtle Beach to watch the eclipse. Myrtle Beach was in the 99% viewing zone. We stopped first at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in the North Myrtle Beach area. We had never rented a slip there before. Really nice people, and a nice pool! We came in with winds over 20 knots and a strong thunderstorm closing in. The wind caught us when we turned into the slip and a concrete pier clipped the wind generator pole and dinghy. Dinghy was fine, but the wind generator pole got jacked up…nothing serious, mostly just embarrassing! We didn’t get to enjoy the pool because all hell broke loose with the storm, but we checked out some local dining options. The next day we went to Barefoot Landing and proceeded to have an two day eclipse party. It was fun. 20 minutes before the eclipse started, a giant black cloud moved in over us and it didn’t leave until 20 minutes past the eclipse…lol! Oh well, we still had a good time and a good party.

Those who know me, know that I am a weather geek/fanatic. Weather fascinates me, and during hurricane season I watch every tropical disturbance, no matter the probability of becoming a storm. When Irma was approaching the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, it was first forecast to come directly into the Cape Fear River inlet, which is where Southport (our home) is. The path shifted around a bit for a week, but we were still in the “cone of uncertainty”, which means we could get our asses kicked. Last Thursday and Friday had very calm winds and we were still in the cone, so we took the sails off the boat in preparation for the worst. The storm wasn’t supposed to hit us until Monday (today), so I delayed taking all of the canvas off, stowing the dinghy, and all of the other prep.
On Saturday, the path shifted far enough away from us that we were not in the cone, and all of the forecast models were starting to show the same path. Winds were only supposed to be in the high 30 knot range (mid 40s MPH), and we have been through plenty of that type of weather, so we decided to leave the dinghy and canvas on. It has been blowing from the mid-20s to the mid-30s today, and just a little rain so far. We have many friends in Florida and feel terrible for everyone that is suffering from the devastation. We are hearing that many of the places that we cruise to each year have sustained severe damage. One friend in Marathon posted that Boot Key Harbor has been devastated and half the boats are gone (there are several hundred moorings in there). This is the mooring field that we stay at, and is the place where the locals take their boats for hurricanes. Our hearts go out to those that have been affected. We are so fortunate to have been spared the brunt of Irma.

As far as the house goes…work continues on the inside. Almost all of the walls are now covered. In keeping with the historic time period that the houses in our neighborhood were built, we are doing ship-lap wood walls, which takes much more time than sheet rock. It also generates lots of nail holes, which Tricia and I have been covering with putty. We have used over 9 thousand nails on the walls so far, so we have our work cut out for us! We also have many “built-ins” that take quite a bit of time, and we still have a couple of months to go until the house is done…still shooting for November. Here is the latest round of pics:
Master bedroom:
Entry way and partial living room. The opening on the far right side of the picture is an office area that will have sliding doors hiding all of the mess:
Built-in above the fireplace for a TV:
Kitchen cabinets:
Pantry cabinets:

A few weeks ago we hauled the boat and had the bottom painted. It had been 3 1/2 years since the last paint job and it was badly needed. I waxed the hull and did some below the waterline maintenance while she was out.
Slime bottom at haulout:
File_000 (1)
Nice, clean, fresh paint at launch:
While working in the boat yard, we had a visitor crawling out from under the boat:
File_000 (2)
Thankfully, he wasn’t interested in us!

Tryin’ to reason with hurricane season

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Well…last week was a rush. We had a long time to watch hurricane Matthew form and move north, and the predictions of its path changed daily…sometimes hourly, which made it a nerve wracking couple of weeks. To top it off, our eldest daughter and her family were coming to the Topsail Beach for the first week in October, and we were going to spend the bulk of the week with them. We left for Topsail, a 90 minute drive from us, on Sunday, October 2. Before leaving, Matthew was supposed to be offshore when it passed by Southport and we were only supposed to get tropical storm force winds. We prepped the boat by taking the solar panels off, securing everything on deck and dock, and tying down the sails, and doubling dock lines, which is sufficient for tropical storm winds. By Monday, it was clear that we were going to have hurricane force winds, so we drove back from the beach for a day and prepped the boat by taking off all canvas (bimini, dodger, side panels), taking down all of the sails, hoisting the dinghy up on deck and strapping it down, and removing everything from the deck and dock. It took all day, and then we drove back to the beach.
We considered tying off to the boat next to us, which would pull both boats off of the dock, but the worst of the winds was going to be out of the east at tropical storm force, which hits us on the stern (back), and from the north at hurricane force, which pushes us off the dock. There are large buildings on the north side of the marina which gave us some protection from the full force of the wind, and after taking all things into consideration, we decided not to tie the boats together. The marina at Southport is rated for hurricane force winds and it is very well protected by the surrounding landscape, and we took that into consideration as well, otherwise we would have tied to pilings and possibly moved the boat into the marina fairway.

We came back from the beach a day early on Friday. The storm was supposed to hit on Saturday evening, but we were supposed to get tropical storm force winds Friday night, building up throughout the day Saturday. We wanted to see how the boat behaved and make any adjustments before things got really hairy, and we stayed on board Friday night. The winds howled and we got bouts of rain, and the boat did very well. The tide never went down for a few days…it was really weird. On Saturday, we thought the marina would flood at high tide (it never did), and we had an invitation to stay with friends in town, so we packed up the generator, some fuel, vodka (priorities!), food and clothing, and drove to their house. Right before the brunt of the storm hit us, the rain stopped, so we took drinks and walked around Southport to check out the conditions. I took mostly videos which this blog software does not support, so I can’t post them. Check out my Facebook page for those. Here are a few snapshots along the Southport waterfront:

The Southport yacht basin:

The waterfront flooded pretty bad, but nothing was torn up. The yacht basin was flooded and many of the docks were destroyed. Around 8 PM the eye passed over us as a category one hurricane, and the winds shifted to the north. The winds after the shift were significantly stronger than before, and it was pretty crazy. We had winds measured at 82 MPH (from one of the boats near by). We never lost power, thankfully. The boat did fine. There was a boat that broke loose in the marina and ended up in the weeds on the west end, and one that partially broke loose, causing it to bang into the boat next to it. In addition, there were several boats that had torn or shredded canvas. Other than that, all was good. We were very fortunate that the storm diminished before it passed almost directly over us, and also fortunate that we didn’t get much rain. The rain all went inland and there is major flooding throughout southeastern North Carolina.

We have many friends who are traveling south in their boats, or left boats in Florida for the summer, so we were very concerned about them. So far, we have not heard anything bad. We have heard that several of our favorite stops along the way south have been severely impacted, and we will have to do some research before we head out in a couple of weeks (November 1). We had made dock reservations at the Charleston Maritime Center for November 4th through the 7th, but we are hearing that they may not be able to reopen for a month.

We have less than 3 weeks before we leave, and many undone boat projects, so the push is on. I expect to be blogging more frequently, especially after we get underway!

People drive like crap, and prepping for tropical storms

Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Well…it has been a month since my last post. We just got back from a 3 week trip to Ohio. We visited with family and friends, completed some business we needed to do, and spent most of the time at our house at Lake Erie doing maintenance. We thought we were going to escape the heat of North Carolina, but for all but one week, it was as hot up there as it is here. Even worse, we don’t have air conditioning in our house at the lake! The time went so fast, and as usual, it was great to spend time with family and friends.

With 2 years of living on the boat under our belt, we once again found it difficult to cope with the insanity on the roads. Since June, we have our Jeep Wrangler here in Southport, so we are driving more this summer than we normally do. Most of the driving is within 10 miles of the marina, and it is in our small town here in Southport or the local beach communities. We are certainly not used to driving in the world of highways and hordes of traffic, and I don’t think I ever will get used to it again. It is insane!!! How did we ever do it every day? The biggest difference we notice is that people on the road have become terrible drivers…worse than we ever remember. There seems to be so many distractions to drivers, because there are so many people that are weaving around or going fast, then slow, then fast. It is just crazy. There is also a drastic increase in the number of people that just don’t seem to care if there is anyone else on the road. They hog lanes, pull out in front of you, refuse to use turn signals, sit at lights that are green…it just goes on and on. I think it has been getting worse and worse over the years, but if you drive in it every day, you don’t notice how drastic the difference is. We see it, and it makes me even more glad that we have minimal exposure to it.

Our time up north was cut short by a few days due to the tropical storm threats that have cropped up in the last couple of weeks. We had 2 threatening to impact the Southport area, one off of the coast of North Carolina that was once forecast to be a direct landing yesterday, and the storm that has moved into the Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to pass very near to us in the next several days. We high-tailed it back to try to be here when they hit. The first one turned north and east, and had no impact. The second is still threatening. They are predicting winds in the 40 and 50 knot range, and over 10 inches of rain through Friday and into Saturday. People are prepping their boats, and so are we. We don’t have too much to do for that strength of wind…only to tie down some stuff on the dock, on deck, and in the cockpit. Here is the latest predicted path from the National Weather Service:
TS Hermine w arrow
The red arrow shows where we are. Our friends here are already starting a “Tropical Storm Party” plan…can’t miss an opportunity to throw a party!!! Stay tuned.